Running to Catch the U-Bahn

Last week I was with a friend climbing the stairs to the U-bahn that would take us back to school. We just missed a train, which seems to be the norm in my life. We got to chatting about whether we tend to run to catch it or just wait for the next one. She said that she doesn’t run, since the next one is just a few minutes away. I must admit – I tend to be the runner. It gets me so frustrated when I run up the stairs and make it to the door, just to have the conductor close it on me. Of course, I take that personally, as he must have seen me huffing and puffing to get there, right?

Why is it that we seem to rush through life? This last week I was reading another book by Donald Miller about a trip he took in an old, beat-up VW van with no particular destination in mind. He compared our use of technology to a time machine. He said, “It moves us through an age of work in a short week.” Because we have heaters and air conditioners, concrete and carpeting, “we live on top of the created world, not in it.” We don’t truly experience the heat of summer or the cold of winter. We wear shoes, so we don’t touch the dirt from which we were even made. We ride on trains and in cars that move us from place to place without us even interacting with what we see outside the window. We really are living on top of the world!

I wonder if that is the way God designed for us to enjoy this beautiful world. Instead of spending time watching the rain fall or listening to the birds sing, we sit in front of a computer or TV screen or play video games to pass the time. We rush to get from one place to the next, but do we appreciate the beautiful color of the leaves on the trees or the fluffy cloud formations?

This past week our secondary students enjoyed some time away from school and the classroom while on their Class Trips. They had a chance to experience the beautiful world that God created for us. They had time to enjoy being with their friends and teachers without having to worry about whether they completed their homework correctly. They had time to laugh and sing and think.

Over the weekend, I surprised my husband by booking an AirBnB in a small village in the Czech Republic two hours drive from Vienna. We were surrounded by trees burdened with tons of red apples waiting to be picked. We were even fortunate to see deer, pheasants, ducks, and guinea hens. We smelled the changing air, as we anticipate the start of Fall. We enjoyed seeing medieval castles nestled on top of magnificent mountains and marveled at the stained glass windows in the spectacular cathedrals dedicated to the glory of God.

This coming week, I encourage you to stop running through life, but to take time to truly experience it. Look around you and notice the others who are riding on the U-bahn with you. Smile when you see a child in a stroller, and marvel at the diversity of our beautiful city. Enjoy the view as you pass over the Donau, and pray for ICSV as you ponder the amazing creation that God made for us to enjoy. Maybe you can even walk up the stairs at the U-bahn station and wait for the next one. Who knows who you might meet or what you might see by taking the next train?

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

Who is Jesus, Really?

Have you ever wondered what Jesus was really like? This summer I read Donald Miller’s book “Searching for God Knows What.” Miller reminded me of the huge sacrifice that Jesus made simply by leaving Heaven in order to come to Earth. In Heaven, Jesus was in constant fellowship with God, the Father. He was surrounded by beings who loved Him as He sat in a place of honor. Why would He “exchange Heaven for a place and exchange eternity for time?” Can any of us really understand this?

When Miller thought about this question, his response was this: “If you believe Jesus was God, and He came to earth to walk among us, the first thing you start considering is that He might actually care. Why else would something so great become something so small?”

Let’s stop and think about who Jesus’ disciples were. Four of them were simple fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. One was a politician, and Paul was a Pharisee. The others were most likely tradesmen of some sort. They weren’t necessarily the most highly regarded of men. But Jesus demonstrated that He really liked them, not just loved them. Jesus mostly hung out with people who had been rejected by society. He ate dinner with the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He was drawn to the crippled, the blind, and the lepers. He held their hands, He hugged them, and He did it in front of everyone in their village that had rejected them. He accepted them as they were, and that is why they loved Him so much.

Miller wrote this in such a way that I can’t do it justice. Here is what Miller said:
“It must have been thrilling to look into the eyes of God and have Him look back and communicate that human beings, down to the individual, are of immense worth and beauty and worthy of intimacy with each other and the Godhead. Such an understanding fueled a lifetime of joy and emotional health among the disciples that neither crowds of people jeering insults nor prison nor torture nor exclusion could undo. They were faithful to the end, even to their own deaths.”

If I consider the disciples that followed Jesus, only one did not suffer a tortuous end. They were executed, beheaded, crucified upside down, burned to death, stoned, clubbed, and stabbed. Jesus must have loved them immensely, and they reciprocated that love. Why else would they have been willing to suffer such horrible deaths? No matter what type of torture they faced, they would not recant that Jesus was indeed God, the Messiah who had come to earth to save us. They had a personal relationship with God, and they would never give that away.

Now, I never met Jesus in person on this earth as the disciples did, but I know that God sent Jesus so that we all could have this same kind of relationship with Him. That is why God sent Jesus to this earth! To repair the relationship that man once had with Him. Wow! Now that is the real Jesus!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

The Encourager

Do you have an encourager in your life? Someone that just stops by to let you know that they appreciate you? Well, I do! Our very own Frau Deisenberger stops by my office every so often just to tell me that she’s glad I’m here. I remember a couple of years ago she said, “I don’t always agree with all your decisions, but I know that you are right for the job, and I’m glad you’re here.” The other day she stopped by to tell me that she loves how my mind works. (I don’t know if anyone has ever told me that.) She said that she appreciates that I can see the big picture, but that I also care about the little things. She said, “I love that you care that the grass is green at the front of the building.” Frau Deisenberger has the gift of encouragement. She is just like Barnabas.

Barnabas was one of the first Christians that travelled with the Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys. His name means “son of encouragement.” He was one of the first Christians to accept that God had changed the Apostle Paul from Saul who persecuted Christians. In the book of Acts that talks about the early church, Luke wrote, “But Barnabas took [Saul], brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.” Barnabas supported Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, and others in their ministries. He demonstrated what it means to extend grace to those who fail when he chose to work with John Mark after he had deserted him and Paul on their first missionary journey. Barnabas is described as “a man who was delighted to see others exhibiting the grace of God in their lives, exhorting and encouraging them to remain faithful.”

If you ever visit my office, you will see that I have quotes taped on my wall almost reaching the ceiling. There is one that simply says, “Be like Barnabas.” Frau Deisenberger is a wonderful reminder that a simple word of encouragement means so much. I’m so glad she is on my team. Who might you seek out to encourage today?

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.

Intellectual Character: Courage

This year, the elementary school students are learning about intellectual character. A new character trait based on the seven qualities that make up intellectual character will be presented each month. Ms. Fitcher has introduced this idea to the students, and this week she explained the first characteristic: intellectual courage.

So what exactly is intellectual character? Philip Dow states that intellectual character consists of our “inner attitudes and dispositions toward things like truth, knowledge, and understanding.” He includes the following character traits: courage, carefulness, tenacity, fair-mindedness, curiosity, honesty and humility. We often think of these traits as determining our moral character; however, Dow has expanded their definitions to include what they look like when it comes to how we think and learn. These attributes are important to develop because what we believe determines how we live.

Intellectual character may make more sense if I describe intellectual courage. We know that a fireman who runs into a burning building to save a child demonstrates courage. He may be afraid, but he risks his own life in order to serve his community and to do a most noble deed. How might courage be demonstrated in a school setting? A student who stands up to a bully to protect a weaker child is showing moral courage. A student who raises her hand to ask a question demonstrates intellectual courage. By asking for clarification the student is letting the other kids and the teacher know that she doesn’t understand something. Some students are honestly afraid to ask a question or to try something that is difficult. They may be afraid of failure, or they may be afraid that others will find out that they need extra help in order to understand a concept.

At ICSV, we want our students to overcome this fear and to demonstrate intellectual courage to stand up for truth, to risk being wrong, and to seek knowledge because “growth and progress require risk, and risk requires courage.” This month, why not ask your students how they are growing in courage? If you are interested in learning more about this concept, you should check out Philip Dow’s 2013 book called “Virtuous Minds: Intellectual Character Development.” Mr. Dow is the Head of School at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi, Kenya. He will be speaking at the School Board’s Vision and Values Retreat next week on this very topic.

Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Director

Proverbs 2: 1-6 NIV
My son, if you accept My words and store up My commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding–indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.